This series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.
Now let’s hear from Eleanor Musgrove, who wrote two stories for the anthology, one inspired by Sense and Sensibility, and the other by Pride and Prejudice.
Margaret blurb: The elder Dashwood sisters have long been established in their new homes and families, but now it is Margaret’s turn to spread her wings, when Colonel Brandon asks for her help with a rather delicate matter.
Father Doesn’t Dance blurb: When George Darcy passes away, the women of Pemberley have to adapt. For one of them, however, what begins as a daring plan to save them all from destitution soon becomes a whole new lease of life.
Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal?
I was vaguely aware of Pride and Prejudice, growing up, because my mum had the BBC adaptation (spread over what seemed like a thousand VHS tapes), but it wasn’t really until high school that I really got into Jane Austen’s world for myself. We studied Sense and Sensibility at school, which is usually the kiss of death for my interest in a book, but I fell in love with it (and, of course, with Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon, since we watched the film as well). I found that there were copies of Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in the local bookshop for £2 a pop, so I thought I’d give them a read. I struggled a little with Emma – I can’t quite get on with the titular heroine, no matter how I try – but fell deeply in love with the other two. I do keep meaning to read Persuasion, with its abundance of Musgroves, but I just haven’t got round to it yet.
Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?
I love Colonel Brandon. Everything about him is just very sweet and solid and noble. I’m fond of Bingley and Darcy, too, despite their wildly different characters. Elinor Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet are firm favourites, too – and I think it’s Elizabeth, of all Miss Austen’s characters, that I relate to the most. Like her, I usually have my nose stuck in a book, and I’m far too sarcastic for my own good!
Q: Why do you think the Regency is such an appealing period to write and read about?
That’s a puzzler. I think, for me, it’s a bit of an escape. While all those rules and formal etiquette lessons are a nightmare from a research point of view, they do provide a comforting sort of foundation to base things on. You know where you stand when a character comes into a room and bows – or when he doesn’t! – and you can be sure that if an entail is in place, there’s no way around it (unless, as in my story Father Doesn’t Dance, you’re very creative…) It’s also nice to imagine myself living in a gorgeous stately home or even a nice cottage with a fireplace that smokes! And then, of course, there are those fantastic outfits…
Author bio: Eleanor Musgrove is a graduate of the University of Kent, and a one-woman word machine at least one month out of the year. She is currently working towards publishing her first novel, and has many more tales to tell.